Pineiro likely to start for Cardinals this weekend

ST. LOUIS -- A big weekend put the St. Louis Cardinals close
enough to contending status to at least take a stab at improving
the roster at the trade deadline.

The pitching-starved defending World Series champions on Tuesday
acquired right-hander Joel Pineiro, optioned to the minors last
week by the Boston Red Sox, and cash for a minor-league player to
be named. The Cardinals had won three in a row, including comebacks
from deficits of six and five runs, and were six games back of NL
Central-leading Milwaukee entering Tuesday night's game at

Pineiro, 28, was a 16-game winner in 2003 and won 14 games in
2002. He was used exclusively in relief this year by the Red Sox
before being sent to Triple-A Pawtucket on July 25 and will be
pitching coach Dave Duncan's latest reclamation project.

Manager Tony La Russa said Pineiro, who made two minor-league
starts after being demoted, will likely get a start this weekend.
The Cardinals had interest in Pineiro in the offseason before he
signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Red Sox.

"Reports were he was throwing the ball well," La Russa said.
"We had guys on this club that know him and like him and endorsed
him, and we'll take a look at him."

Duncan had great success last year with Jeff Weaver, who won a
game in each round of the postseason and pitched the clinching game
in the World Series. Jeff Suppan, who twice won 16 games and was
the NL Championship Series MVP last fall, was a sub-.500 pitcher
before coming to St. Louis in 2003, and Woody Williams helped the
Cardinals make the playoffs in 2001 and won 18 games in '03.

However, the Cardinals released Tomo Ohka earlier this season
after an unsuccessful minor-league trial period and cut ties with
Sidney Ponson in midseason last year.

Pineiro played seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners before
signing a free-agent deal with the Red Sox in January. He was 1-1
with a 5.03 ERA in 31 relief appearances for the Red Sox but had a
3.60 ERA in 16 road appearances covering 15 innings.

Cardinals starters have a 5.50 ERA and the rotation is without
Mark Mulder and ace Chris Carpenter, who had reconstructive elbow
surgery earlier this month. The rotation has included three former
relievers: Braden Looper (4.85), Adam Wainwright (4.45) and
Brad Thompson (5.15). It also includes Anthony Reyes, Kip Wells and Mike Maroth, who have ERAs above 5.00.

Reyes ended a 12-game losing streak on Saturday and will get at
least one more start, probably bumping Maroth later this week.

Pineiro has a career record of 59-56 with a 4.50 ERA in 26
games, including 148 starts. He was 14-7 in 2002 and 16-11 in 2003.